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Ashley Goodall worked as an executive at Deloitte and Cisco Systems. She has a new book coming out, The Problem With Change. In a recent article, she takes Silicon Valley to task, saying, “the home of so many technological and workplace innovations, is rolling out another one: the unnecessary layoff.”

Goodall continues, “After shedding over 260,000 jobs last year, the greatest carnage since the dot-com meltdown more than two decades ago, the major tech companies show little sign of letting up in 2024 despite being mostly profitable, in some cases handsomely so. In their words, the tech companies are letting people go to further the continuing process of aligning their structure to their key priorities, or ‘transformation’ or becoming ‘future ready.'”

Employee engagement, having ticked up slightly during the pandemic, is back to all-time lows. Goodall has worked with a lot of leaders and employees inside high growth businesses she says it’s because of an “unrelenting uncertainty and the upheaval that have become constant features of business life today.”

Exhausting. Soul-sucking. Just another day in the corporate blender.

These are terms employees use to describe their work lives. If we can’t all agree that this is awful for our companies and the teams we lead, then let’s at least acknowledge it’s really bad for business. How can we expect our employees to embrace excellence if they are exhausted, morally injured and stuck in a “blender” of change?

The Problem with Change

This trend of constant disruption, characterized by frequent layoffs, reorganizations, and strategic shifts, has become pervasive in corporate culture, often without yielding desired outcomes. Studies suggest that such practices rarely result in increased productivity or improved business performance. Instead, they create an atmosphere of uncertainty and instability, leading to emotional exhaustion and decreased morale among employees.

Steven Maier and Martin Seligman conducted some well-known experiments in the 1960s and discovered that “when we sense we are not in control of a situation we give up trying to make things better — this is ‘learned helplessness’ setting in.”

If we want our teams to achieve peak performance, employees must not only have control over their performance, but they also need to understand why it matters, how their contributions tie into the mission and vision, where they belong in the organization, and most importantly for things to make sense. All of this gets turned upside down by disruption.

Goodall cautions, “were more leaders to be guided by the science of change, or by the stories that people on the front lines share, they would quickly discover that it is stability that is the foundation of improvement.”

Putting the Lessons into Practice

Orthodontists can draw parallels about the importance of stability in our field. Instability comes in more forms than unnecessary layoffs, generic CEO statements, and “the exaggerated cheer-speak with which most change initiatives are communicated.” Think it through. Make a list of all the ways your business operations create unnecessary instability:

  • In your orthodontic treatment plans, could another orthodontist pick up right where you left off?
  • Do your treatment notes detail exactly what should be done next, which teeth you’re monitoring, and when treatment should be finished? Or do you sit down at the chair and re-diagnose each case at each appointment, like some of my traditional faculty used to teach?
  • What about new patient presentations? Do you really need an hour to show a patient their crowded and misaligned teeth?
  • Do you understand the more time you give a project or appointment to expand, the more likely it expands to fill that time?
  • What if your treatment coordinators were given the freedom of a predictable system? How might this improve outcomes, reduce treatment times, increase patient satisfaction and referrals, etc.?

Bottom Line: If you want to embody the principle that “stability is the foundation of improvement,” you must prioritize long-term results over short-term gains. Implement treatment protocols that prioritize efficiency, ensuring patient compliance, and providing adequate post-treatment care to maintain results.

By fostering stability throughout the planning and treatment process, you can enhance patient satisfaction and achieve lasting improvements in overall oral health and practice growth.

Always seek to understand how a new initiative will honor relationships inside your organization and project stability, allowing each of you to point your efforts in a useful direction for all stakeholders.

This is no small task, which is why most companies get it wrong – and why this presents a huge opportunity for you to get it right.

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